There’s been a lot of over–thinking it about poor Julia, the composite character created by the Obama campaign team. In my book, she’s a success despite the backlash, because, in keeping the focus all about policy, the infographic of her life got even her detractors to spell out the popular stuff that they’re against. Ross Douthat, usually a master of obfuscation, is forced to tick off the injustices:
The list of Obama-bestowed benefits includes Head Start when Julia’s a tyke, tax credits and Pell grants to carry her through college and low-interest loan repayment afterward, guaranteed birth control when she’s a 20-something and government-sponsored loans when she wants to start a business, all of it culminating in a stress-free retirement underwritten by Medicare and Social Security.
Oh, no! A stress-free retirement! Sounds awful.
Campbell Brown saw in “The Life of Julia” evidence of Obama’s ongoing tendency to condescend to women, calling it “a silly and embarrassing caricature based on the assumption that women look to government at every meaningful phase of their lives for help.” About a family member who lost her job, Brown writes, “Friends and family, not government, have been there at the dire moments when she has asked them to be.… [S]he, and they, wouldn’t have it any other way.”
Obama does condescend to women. But his policies generally don’t. Faux protestations that women are smarter than men: that’s condescending. Telling us it’s “common sense” that 15-year-olds can’t figure out how to take emergency contraception correctly: condescending. Backing policies that enable to women to access reasonably priced health insurance, earn fair wages, pay for college, start a small business: that’s showing respect.